Putin’s money, American Politics, and the FBI: How does the FBI investigate the Putin and Russian influence on American politics?
“The United States still has great capacity to be its own worst enemy”: FBI #FBI suffers from the CHRONIC LACK OF BRAINS AND FINESSE. Solution: transfer the COUNTERINTELLIGENCE duties to #ODNI. Defending the United States against Russian dark money | GOP Midterms 2022 gains in Southern Brooklyn NY: Analysis and Reflections
What is behind the Republican surge in the Russian speaking South Brooklyn? Putin’s money? | The other New York: how Republicans made ‘shocking’ gains in the empire state – The Guardian
— Michael Novakhov (@mikenov) November 29, 2022
Putin’s money and the American Politicshttps://t.co/tGsbNAdseS
— Michael Novakhov (@mikenov) November 29, 2022
Putin’s money and the American Politics
GOP Midterms 2022 gains in Southern Brooklyn NY: Analysis and Reflections – Google Search google.com/search?q=GOP+M…
Putin’s money and the American Politics – Google Search google.com/search?q=Putin…
GOP Midterms 2022 gains in Southern Brooklyn NY – Google Search google.com/search?q=GOP+M…
“the United States still has great capacity to be its own worst enemy”:
FBI #FBI suffers from the CHRONIC LACK OF BRAINS AND FINESSE.
Solution: transfer the COUNTERINTELLIGENCE duties to #ODNI.
Defending the United States against Russian dark money – AC atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-resea…
Defending the United States against Russian dark money – Atlantic Council atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-resea…
Russian political influence efforts in the United States – Google Search google.com/search?q=Russi…
How Russia used social media to divide Americans | US politics | The Guardian
Russia’s Prigozhin admits interfering in U.S. elections | Reuters reuters.com/world/us/russi…
Russian political influence efforts in the United States – Google Search google.com/search?q=Russi…
Putin’s money, American Politics, and the FBI – Google Search google.com/search?q=Putin…
How does the FBI investigate the Putin and Russian influence on American politics? – Google Search google.com/search?q=How+d…
Putin’s money and the American politics: Does the FBI care to investigate? – Google Search google.com/search?q=Putin…
Russian occupying forces tortured a minor girl and a boy and brutally killed them in Izyum, Kharkiv Region, according to the results of an exhumation carried out by Ukrainian law- enforcement agencies.
This was stated by the Head of the Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, during an online speech he gave on Monday, Nov. 28, at the Possible Scenarios for the Prosecution of Russia for the Crime of Aggression conference.
“The atrocities we are facing are shocking. When our law-enforcement agencies carried out an exhumation in Izyum, they found a minor girl who was first raped and then brutally killed. They found a boy whose genitals were cut off before he was executed. We discover such terrible things every time we liberate a new settlement,” said Yermak.
He underlined that that behind all crimes lie one huge crime – the so-called mother crime of aggression – without the investigation of which and the punishment of the guilty the truth will never be gotten to.
“There is no doubt that Russia bears full responsibility for what was committed. Russian soldiers and their commanders who committed war crimes will be brought to justice. However, this is not enough. Russian officials must be brought to criminal responsibility for the crime of aggression,” he added.
Yermak also said a special international tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine will enable justice to be restored and punishment to be meted out to those guilty of committing terrible acts.
According to official information of the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Ukraine, more than 47,900 war crimes were committed and more than 8,400 civilians died, including 440 children, during Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. At least 46,000 houses and tens of thousands of civil infrastructure facilities have been destroyed. Among other things, 1,400 institutions for children have been destroyed and at least 11,400 young Ukrainians taken forcibly out of the country.
Izyum was liberated from Russian occupation on Sept. 10 in the course of a large-scale counter-offensive undertaken by Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv Region. According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces killed and tortured hundreds civilians of civilians during their six-month occupation, and mass graves of Ukrainians were found there.
The post Victims of Rape, Castration Found During Exhumation in Liberated Izyum appeared first on Kyiv Post.
It was 2002, and Justin Rose was on a losing streak. The 20-year-old South Boston native had washed out of the University of Maine after just one semester, held a string of terrible jobs, and had just gone through a bad breakup with a girlfriend. He was hawking cellphones at the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, when a Marine walked into his store. Rose went into his standard pitch but lost the sale. The Marine Corps recruiter did not. Three weeks later, Rose shipped out to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, for basic training.
The war in Afghanistan was about to enter its third year, and the war in Iraq was looming on the horizon. “I’ll see you in a couple years,” Rose told his parents. He’d be on active duty, a rifleman, and probably see service overseas. At least that’s what the recruiter told him. “It turned out, I was actually a communications guy in the Marine Corps Reserves,” Rose recalled. “So I came home 13 weeks later.”
A few years would pass before Rose shipped out for his first deployment, arriving in October 2005 at Camp Lemonnier in the sun-bleached nation of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. His unit had been cobbled together from Marines based, like him, in Massachusetts. The rest hailed from California and Kansas. One of those Midwestern Marines was Jase Derek Stanton.
As part of the Third Provisional Security Company, Rose and his fellow Marines manned the guard towers and entry control points for the largest American outpost on the African continent. They had only been in-country for about a month when one of the Marine reservists from Kansas got drunk, vomited several times, and passed out on the ground outside his quarters. The next thing that Marine recalled, according to a summary in court documents, was waking up to find his pants pulled down and Stanton on top of him, touching his penis. The Marine shoved Stanton away and returned to his own quarters, but didn’t report the assault. A few weeks later, he would wake up to find Stanton assaulting him again. This time, he reported it. But that didn’t stop Stanton, who was acquitted at court martial. And neither did the Marines.
On New Year’s Eve 2005, Justin Rose headed to Camp Lemonnier’s cantina for celebratory $2.50 beers with his fellow Marines before heading back to his “hooch” around 1:30 a.m. Sometime after daybreak, Rose woke up to find someone stroking his penis. Disoriented for a moment, he lept down from his raised bunk and gave chase as a man dressed in red dashed out of his quarters and into another tent. He found Stanton, dressed in red, feigning sleep in his bed; Rose was certain Stanton was the attacker. So Rose did what he had been trained to do. He went to his team leader, a young corporal, and reported the assault. The first question he heard was: “Are you sure you’re not making this up?”
Photo: U.S. Marines
Stigma and Shame
Serving in the U.S. armed forces is dangerous, especially for women. Despite being a minority, making up only 16.5 percent of the military, nearly 1 in 4 U.S. servicewomen reports being sexually assaulted — a rate far higher than that of men. Years of analysis of the issue, handwringing, and incremental reforms have failed to stem what has been called an “epidemic.”
But sexual assault of men in the military is also widespread and vastly underreported. Each day, on average, more than 45 men in the armed forces are sexually assaulted, according to the latest Pentagon estimates. For women, it is 53 per day, according to a September 2022 Pentagon report that uses a new euphemism “unwanted sexual contact” as a “proxy measure for sexual assault.” Nearly 40 percent of veterans who report to the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, that they have experienced military sexual trauma, or MST — sexual assault or sexual harassment — are men.
Men, civilian or military, are less likely to report sexual assault, to identify experiences they have had as abusive, and to seek formal treatment for such harms. A 2018 study of active-duty, reserve, and National Guard personnel noted an overall lack of awareness of sexual assault of men in the military, an inclination to blame or marginalize male victims, and substantial barriers to reporting sexual assault — including stigma, a lack of confidence in leadership, and feeling “trapped” by the physical confines of deployment. The 2022 Pentagon report found that about 90 percent of men in the military did not report a sexual assault they experienced in 2021; about 71 percent of women failed to report such an attack. “Underreporting of MST,” according to a 2019 study by researchers from the VA’s Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center in Colorado, “may derive from men’s concerns about stigma, shame, rape myths, lack of past empathic response to disclosures of MST, and the perceived implications of reporting MST for one’s masculinity and sexuality.” For these same reasons, they noted, male MST survivors are at “elevated risk for a vast array of adverse health outcomes.” The trauma of sexual assault can, for example, result in depression, anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger management issues, self-blame, and low self-esteem, among other ill effects.
A decade ago, most veterans who submitted compensation claims for sexual assaults during their military service were denied benefits by the VA. In the years since, the VA has granted claims for military sexual trauma at an increasing rate. More than 103,000 veterans, of all genders, are now formally recognized by the VA as having been sexually traumatized during their service.
From 2011 to 2021, the total number of MST claims filed by men skyrocketed more than 119 percent, from 1,352 to 2,969, according to statistics provided to The Intercept by the VA. By the end of June, more than 2,550 male veterans had filed claims in 2022, almost double the number in 2011 and already 85 percent of last year’s total.
Over the last decade, the number of claims granted by the VA has grown from just 27.8 percent of all claims submitted for compensation by men in 2011 to 68.5 percent last year. Despite the precipitous growth, male claims have consistently been rejected at a higher rate than those of women, and the grant rate has lagged an average of 13 percent below that of women. The VA had no answer for the disparity, telling The Intercept via email that “it would be speculative to provide an explanation as to any difference in the grant rate.”
Photo: Alyssa Schukar for The Intercept
After being assaulted, Justin Rose was made to recount the details again and again, to his squad leader, his platoon sergeant, Jase Stanton’s squad leader, and a chaplain. The trust he placed in his noncommissioned officers to keep his story quiet was quickly betrayed as word spread across the camp. Rose was branded the Marine who had been groped and hadn’t done anything about it. He became the target of jokes and tried laughing along, but inside he was in agony and began questioning himself. Why hadn’t he done anything about it? Why hadn’t he kicked Stanton’s ass? He did the right thing, on paper at least, but it didn’t feel right. “A real Marine would have fought back,” he later wrote. He began to blame himself for his assault and his failure to react as others — and even he — expected. “My inaction that night crippled me, and I had no way to fix it,” he recalled.
Rose returned stateside, remained on active duty, and was promoted to corporal before being called to testify at Stanton’s court martial. But before the trial, he was contacted by Stanton’s military attorney who grilled him about his drinking at the cantina and how close a look he got of his fleeing assaulter. “When you’re in the Marines and an officer calls, you just answer the questions. In hindsight, now that I’ve been a company commander and have been involved with court martial hearings, I realize that was probably improper,” Rose told The Intercept.
“My inaction that night crippled me, and I had no way to fix it.”
The defense dissected his testimony, twisted it around, and used it to attack his credibility. Rose recalled that the defense counsel said his drinking of three beers at the cantina, hours earlier, had clouded his mind; that he had failed to get a clear look at the man who assaulted him; and that his failure to confront Stanton called into doubt whether the assault even occurred. Rose and four fellow Marines who provided evidence against Stanton were instead accused of colluding to ruin his career.
“The main consensus was that we were trying to conspire against Stanton for cultural and social differences,” Rose told The Intercept. “He was a Midwesterner from a religious background, and we were from the Northeast and not accustomed to his kind of Christian fundamentalism.” The military judge ruled in Stanton’s favor and he walked free.
“By the time it was over,” Rose later wrote, “the Marine Corps had failed me three times: It had failed to take my claims seriously; then made my attacker out to be the victim and me the criminal; and finally failed to provide adequate support and resources in the aftermath of my assault — whether through access to sexual-assault counseling or something as simple as believing my story.”
Rose had had enough. He found that he couldn’t wear the same uniform as the man who had assaulted him and the many others who allowed Stanton to get away with it. “The military justice system said that I was a liar for something that I had no reason to lie about. If I was going to lie about anything, it certainly wouldn’t be that I was sexually assaulted and didn’t do anything about it,” he said. “It ended up being the reason that I left the Marine Corps. It shook my confidence in myself. It was a point of self-doubt. It was a point of shame.”
In 2007, the same year he left the Marines, Rose joined the Massachusetts National Guard. He would deploy to Afghanistan in 2011, where he saw combat and suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving as a Security Forces platoon leader for a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan Province.
Stanton served in the Marines for several more years before leaving the corps and getting involved in Kansas politics. He worked as the campaign manager for Republican congressional candidate John Rysavy and as a field coordinator for the Republican senatorial campaign of Todd Tiahrt, a 16-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2010, Rysavy lost his primary, capturing just 2 percent of the Republican vote. In 2014, Tiahrt lost in the Republican primary, failing in a bid to reclaim his House seat from Mike Pompeo, who was later become U.S. Secretary of State.
Politics was not, however, Stanton’s only pursuit.
String of Assaults
Over the next decade, Stanton would be implicated in a string of sexual assaults. In 2007, after he had been acquitted at court martial, Stanton’s reserve unit — based out of Kansas City, Missouri — took part in one of its monthly weekend trainings. One night, according to court records obtained by The Intercept, he and other Marines went out drinking and after the bar closed, headed back to their base to sleep. Stanton attempted, multiple times, to grope two of the men. One of them, after repeatedly telling Stanton to stop, threatened to hurt him and later reported the incident, according to court documents.
In Johnson County, Kansas, in July 2008, Stanton attended a farewell party for a member of the military being deployed to the Middle East. One party-goer drank heavily and passed out, after which Stanton laid him out on a couch, pulled off his pants, and performed oral sex on him, according to the court records obtained by The Intercept. After a friend of the victim contacted the police, Stanton was charged with aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery and resigned from Tiahrt’s campaign.
During the investigation, the Johnson County prosecutor contacted Rose and interviewed him about his assault by Stanton, though Rose was never called to testify. In the end, Stanton was convicted but served no prison time. Instead, he was given probation and required to register as a sex offender — but failed to properly do so.
While Rose and others had information about Stanton’s past that they shared with civilian authorities, the civilian world had no formal record of Stanton’s military legal proceedings. As the deputy attorney of nearby Riley County, Kansas, Bethany Fields prosecutes major crimes like murder, rape, and other forms of sexual assault, but she had no documentation on Stanton. “The military court martial proceeding didn’t follow him into civilian life, so there was no way for local law enforcement to know about it,” she told The Intercept. She also failed to find any records of Stanton’s court martial for the assaults at Camp Lemonnier.
Stanton’s probation meant that he was facing prison time if he was convicted again, but after failing to provide full information when registering as a sex offender, he disappeared from the radar of the criminal justice system until resurfacing a few years later in Fields’s Riley County.
“The military court martial proceeding didn’t follow him into civilian life, so there was no way for local law enforcement to know about it.”
On June 7, 2015, two soldiers, one 19 years old and the other 22, from the Army post at Fort Riley, were drinking at Tubby’s, a sports bar in Manhattan, Kansas, where they met Stanton. At closing time, the men went back to Stanton’s home where he poured shots and fixed them mixed drinks. The teenager passed out and woke to find Stanton “was sitting on top of him and was sodomizing him,” according to court documents. He scrambled to his feet and fled to the bathroom. When he emerged, he saw his friend passed out with his pants and underwear pulled down to his knees. The 19-year-old soldier pulled his friend’s pants up and attempted to contact his superiors and then family members, but couldn’t reach either. He then called the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention hotline and arranged to meet with a SHARP representative at a nearby Starbucks. The teenage soldier was unable to wake his friend and left him at Stanton’s home. Both victims went to the hospital separately and received sexual assault examinations that revealed “a foreign DNA profile that matched Stanton.”
Stanton later texted a friend that he had a “three-way while that moron Boston kid [the 22-year-old] was asleep in the living room.” At trial, Stanton explained that he meant that he, according to summary documents, “messed around” with a friend and the teenage soldier, even though he had initially told a police detective that he had not had sexual intercourse with the teen. Arrested on June 9, 2015, Stanton was charged in Riley County with aggravated criminal sodomy.
A decade after being assaulted by Stanton at Camp Lemonnier, a decade after being doubted by the Marine Corps and accused of lying at court martial, a decade after Stanton had walked free, a detective from Kansas — where testimony about prior acts of sexual misconduct is admissible in court — called Rose to say that he was building a case against Stanton.
At trial, Stanton testified that he and the teenager had engaged in consensual oral and anal sex. The teenager countered that he had been unconscious. “At no point did I knowingly or intentionally hurt anyone,” Stanton maintained.
The 22-year-old victim did not appear at the trial — but Rose did. Then an Army captain with a wife and 2-year-old child, he flew to Kansas to tell his story once more. It was his 34th birthday.
This time, Rose’s testimony along with the victims of the 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2015 assaults was enough to sway the judge, who noted a distinct pattern. “They involved alcohol, they involved partying, usually asleep or perhaps passed out. … Most of them were in the military,” observed Judge Meryl D. Wilson.
“It’s very troubling — this is not the first time you had taken advantage of someone,” said Wilson. “The sad things about these situations is it doesn’t just impact you.” Wilson found Stanton was guilty of one count of aggravated criminal sodomy for his assault of the teenage soldier and sentenced him to 49 years in prison. He was also sentenced to 18 years (to be served concurrently) for failing to properly register as a sex offender in Kansas.
Photo: Alyssa Schukar for The Intercept
Last July, an investigation by The Intercept found that sexual assault of U.S. military personnel in Africa was far more common and widespread than the Pentagon reported to Congress.
The Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office compiles annual reports that claim to include all allegations of sexual assault involving U.S. military personnel. Between 2010 and 2020, the Pentagon listed just 73 cases of sexual assault in the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, area of operations. Yet criminal investigation files, obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act, show that military criminal investigators logged at least 158 allegations of sexual offenses in Africa during that same period.
The case files revealed that these charges of sexual misconduct involving U.S. military personnel occurred in at least 22 countries in Africa, including 13 nations that do not appear in the annual Department of Defense reports. Some of the allegations accuse members of the military, while others recount attacks on U.S. personnel by civilians on or near U.S. outposts. For 2006, the year that Justin Rose reported his assault by Jase Stanton, the Defense Department’s official annual report doesn’t even offer a breakdown of such attacks by country.
A March 2020 report by a military advisory committee lamented the “difficulty in obtaining, uniform, accurate, and complete information on sexual offense cases across the military.” Last November, The American Prospect reported that Pentagon officials were long aware that the military’s system for reporting sexual assaults was dysfunctional, leading to underestimates of the scale of the problem. This may help explain the wide discrepancy between the Pentagon’s annual figures and the AFRICOM files obtained by The Intercept. Earlier this year, in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., and Jackie Speier, D-Calif., took the Pentagon to task for its failures in tracking sexual assault. “Poor data management makes it difficult for DoD leadership to understand the scope of the problem or respond effectively,” they wrote.
The Pentagon notes that survivors of sexual assault are often reluctant to come forward for a variety of reasons, including a desire to move on, maintain privacy, and avoid feelings of shame. Yet troops say that even when they do speak out, they often face a military culture and command structure that doesn’t take their allegations seriously and a military justice system that provides little accountability. Just 225 of 5,640 eligible cases went to court martial and only 50 of those resulted in convictions for nonconsensual sexual offenses, according to 2020 statistics. That conviction rate represents 0.88 percent of the cases.
This year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order making sexual harassment, for the first time, a crime under U.S. military law.
The effects of poor accountability and shame surrounding sexual assault while on active duty can continue far beyond one’s period of military service. “Despite successes in ensuring access to care for men who experienced MST, ongoing stigma related to experiencing sexual trauma in men also may be a barrier to seeking care,” Randal Noller, a VA spokesperson, told The Intercept. “We are looking at every avenue to help address this concern and inform men who experienced MST that VA believes them, that they are not alone, and we are here to help.”
Last year, in the face of increasing congressional pressure, Austin recommended that decisions to prosecute cases of sexual assault be taken out of the chain of command. In December 2021, Congress passed significant military justice reform that did so, which may prevent retaliation and lead more survivors to report sexual offenses. This year, President Joe Biden also signed an executive order making sexual harassment, for the first time, a crime under U.S. military law.
Photo: Alyssa Schukar for The Intercept
“Changes Will Happen”
Today, Jase Stanton is incarcerated at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas. Barring parole board intervention or credit for “good time,” his earliest release date is January 1, 2059 — 53 years to the day that he assaulted Justin Rose.
Stanton did not reply to text messages sent via an app that allows communications with inmates or to a letter sent to him by The Intercept.
“In the years since then, I came to realize that it wasn’t the assault that had the most enduring effect on me,” Rose said. “It was people’s refusal to believe that one man would assault another man. It was the mockery from leaders that I had trusted and the implication that, if it had happened, I must have done something to invite it.”
Rose, now a major in the Army Reserve, still grapples with feelings that, somehow, he remains at fault. “There is guilt on my behalf. I didn’t present a convincing enough case,” he said of his testimony at Stanton’s 2006 court martial. “And these two soldiers down at Fort Riley paid for it. What he did to them was substantially worse than what he did to me, and that’s a shitty feeling — that I didn’t do anything to help them.”
But Bethany Fields, the Riley County prosecutor, credits Rose’s willingness to testify in 2015 as having a major influence on Stanton’s conviction and lengthy prison sentence. “The case got delayed a couple times, so we had to call and tell the earlier victims that the dates had changed, but Justin stuck with me. That was huge,” she said. “In this case, the issue was consent. We had DNA, so there was no question that the act happened. The issue was whether or not the victim consented. Because we had Justin and others come in and say, ‘This happened to me and I didn’t consent,’ ‘I saw him do this and that person didn’t consent’; because we had all these other people who said they had been sleeping or drinking or passed out and didn’t consent, it made for a much stronger case.”
Fields believes that testifying about these traumas will help to hasten change. “The more the word gets out about this type of assault, the more that people are willing to talk about this, the more people speak out,” she said, “the more changes will happen and the less victims we will have in the future.”
Rose said that he’s seen a shift in military culture since his assault at Camp Lemonnier — and that it’s been driven by survivors.
“There was a perception, as a male sexual assault victim, that you wanted it. And if you didn’t, you could have fought back harder. And that creates a culture of silence,” he said. “Today, you see a lot more people being open about their stories. People are willing to come forward. They’re not ashamed of what has happened to them. And because of that, things are changing.”
The post In U.S. Military, Sexual Assault Against Men Is Vastly Underreported appeared first on The Intercept.
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Gregory Davidzon, third from left, hosts a Russian-language radio show on his station Davidzon Radio.Credit…Emily Berl for The New York Times
COUNCILMAN LEWIS A. FIDLER peers at the audience in a low-ceilinged room on Coney Island Avenue with the expectant smile of the newly betrothed.
He is running for a State Senate seat and has come to the Davidzon Radio studios on a chill winter afternoon to get the endorsement of political luminaries from the densely Russian Jewish communities of south Brooklyn. A Russian-born assemblyman and Russian-born district leaders sit alongside him. Gregory Davidzon, thick-bodied, white-haired and the owner of this station, presides as the master of ceremonies.
As this is billed as a live radio interview, Mr. Fidler puts the microphone to his mouth. He’ll hold that pose for many minutes before he utters a word. For Mr. Davidzon has begun rattling away into his own microphone in raspy, meaty Russian.
Mr. Davidzon, in essence and at much greater length, says this to the audience and his thousands of Russian-language listeners:
Friends, last year, in 2011, we flexed our muscle and elected a Republican, Bob Turner, to Congress. Now the state Republican Party has disrespected our community by drawing new electoral lines that divide and hurt our community. So we must teach them a lesson they will not forget and vote for Democratic Lew Fidler. He’s the right man for our community. Remember: not one Russian vote for his Republican opponent!
The 90 or so older Russians, some wearing military ribbons from the Great Patriotic War, burst into applause. Mr. Fidler, who does not speak Russian, glances at the interpreter for help. Getting none, he turns and smiles beatifically, figuring that applause is good.
He would be correct. Mr. Davidzon, 53, serves as a kingmaker in Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, the neighborhoods known collectively as Little Russia. A recent census study estimated that 200,000 New Yorkers over age 5 speak Russian. Perhaps 30,000 Russians vote in south Brooklyn, and their electoral clout is indisputable. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Comptroller John C. Liu, Borough President Marty Markowitz, various state senators and City Council representatives trek to Mr. Davidzon’s radio station. Many appear, too, at his exuberant parties at Baku Palace, a vast wedding and bar mitzvah ziggurat of a restaurant on Sheepshead Bay. He and his radio station and newspapers reflect the political coming of age of the Russian community.
Perhaps no race demonstrated that more than last summer’s special election for Anthony D. Weiner’s former Congressional seat.
It is a historically Democratic district, and the Republican, Bob Turner, began the race as a decided long shot; by the September election, with the help of thousands of Russian voters and a smaller contingent of Orthodox Jews, he had trampled his Democratic opponent, David I. Weprin.
Representative Turner does not hesitate to credit Mr. Davidzon. The reach of Davidzon Radio, he notes, was almost comically broad. Mr. Turner’s staff fielded Election Day calls from angry Russian voters in the Bronx who had shown up at polling places demanding the right to “vote for Bob.”
Mr. Turner’s district extends nowhere near the Bronx.
“He would put me in front of the movie theater in Brighton, pick up a megaphone and start calling people to come over and meet me,” Mr. Turner recalled, laughing. “I don’t know what he said, but I can’t overstate his influence.”
Mr. Davidzon, who harbors political ambitions of his own, relies on electoral tools both modern and old-fashioned. He studies electoral districts, sends mailings, unleashes robo-calls and talks up the candidate on his radio show. Unlike more conventional English-language media outlets, he bills most candidates for his post-endorsement services (albeit more modestly than most campaign consultants in New York). He also listens and worries and listens some more. The raccoon circles that ring his brown eyes speak to many 3 a.m. epiphanies.
“We have 5,000 calls per day at this radio station, and I listen to every one,” he said. “One wrong step and they call: ‘Why you doing this!’ And I say: ‘Guys, you’re right! I was wrong.’ ”
He shrugged and said, “We track community, and the community tracks us.”
New York City politics, however, are an unsentimental game.
The lines of electoral districts at the state and federal levels are being redrawn to reflect population changes. This winter, State Senate Republicans released a proposed redistricting map that would dilute Russian voting power by dividing it among three districts. The Senate Republicans, it turns out, chose to cast their lot with the Orthodox Jews and Hasidim who live farther north. There, the Republicans proposed a so-called super-Jewish district.
Led by Mr. Davidzon, the Russians of Brooklyn hope to exact revenge by backing Mr. Fidler. That decision comes encoded with risk. Mr. Fidler’s opponent, David Storobin, is a lawyer and political neophyte; he also is a Russian-born Jew running an energetic campaign.
Mr. Davidzon professes no worry about this election. He points to a sign at his radio station, “Not One Russian Vote.”
A former Democratic assemblyman who represented Westchester County, Richard L. Brodsky, knows the Russian community; his grandparents hailed from Kiev and Odessa and had built a grand synagogue in Russia. In 2010, Mr. Brodsky ran for attorney general in the Democratic primary. He lost badly, winning four Assembly districts: his own and three majority Russian districts in south Brooklyn, where he had carried the Davidzon endorsement.
“They are existentially angry,” he said of the Brighton Russians. “They found that the Republicans and Democrats don’t have friends; they have interests.
“This was a coming-of-age tale that turned out badly.”
THE news media sometimes describes Mr. Davidzon as “a Russian media mogul,” although in person he’s not so mogulish. No Volga Viking, he is a bit portly, sporting a sheepish grin and a shaggy haircut. He speaks in a perpetually hoarse whisper. Only his probing brown eyes, alternating between sad and steely, hint at more.
Davidzon Radio sits on the second floor of a faceless building. Artificial Christmas trees and Balinoff Vodka calendars decorate the offices. Mr. Davidzon says the station breaks even, maybe. He pours money from his profitable Russian-language newspapers into the station; this may have left him more influential than wealthy.
How is your business? He hikes his eyebrows.
“Could be worse,” he said. “Radio station is not a business; it’s tool.”
Fifteen years ago, few claimed riches here. Brighton Beach Avenue, with its Cyrillic-lettered signs, dowdy clothing stores and grocery stores selling mountains of sausages, pickled vegetables, smoked fish and prepared borscht and pirogi, all in the cool shadows of the elevated subway tracks, had the feel of a shtetl.
That world is fast disappearing. Now, the light pink Oceana condominium complex, with its pool, sculptured gardens, balconies and $1.7 million penthouses, dominates the east end of Brighton. Walk 10 blocks farther, to Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, and you’ll find Russian buyers tearing down old homes and putting up sprawling affairs designed in the Roman Imperial style, with massive bronze crests, spiked gates and enough marble to empty the quarries of Carrara.
This Russian émigré community, thick with doctors, lawyers and scientists, has come into its own. Mr. Davidzon lives in a two-bedroom apartment in a pleasant apartment building east of Coney Island Avenue. He has a stuffed plush tiger, some ornamental dolls in a case and a handsome living room.
He was born in Tashkent, in what is now Uzbekistan, and moved with his mother and geologist father from place to place in the dying days of the Soviet empire. He was a science student and an inventor, matriculating at good schools and applying for patents. “Jew” was a word that Soviet bureaucrats all but hung around his neck.
“I would submit scientific articles in English, and it would come back in mail delivered by KGB,” Mr. Davidzon recalled. “It was very difficult economically. For me, Soviet Union was a jail.”
He immigrated here and took a computer tech job at Baruch College. Was he anxious about starting over? He shrugged, smiled. He’s one immigrant among many; why do you ask. “I was a father of two, with a wife, new to this country,” he said. “Of course I was anxious.”
He made friends, black, white and Asian, and took no vacations. (Time off makes him edgy, he said.) Inventor, entrepreneur, scientist, he’s a man perpetually playing four angles and eight projects.
“He’s a character on levels I’m probably not even aware of,” said a politician who has known him for years. “He’d be a character in Moscow, much less in New York.”
He came to his radio empire almost off hand. His daughter, an opera singer, was in a competition, and he showed up. “I realized I liked the business,” he said. “I asked the owner, ‘What do you want …’ ”
Yelena Makhnin, wiry and sharp-eyed, with a wry smile, is executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District. “I remember that day he was looking around,” she said. “I know Gregory. He is a very fast learner.”
He plunged the radio station into politics. He had a daily show, conducted voter-registration drives on the boardwalk and ran campaigns — 18 in all. “For those who cannot speak English well, it’s not just about politics,” he said. “It makes us full American citizens.”
He’s not a Putin-level potentate. The Hasidic Satmar of Williamsburg and the Lubavitchers of Crown Heights vote based on the divinations of a grand rebbe. Not the Russians.
“You can’t just tell them: Vote this way,” Mr. Davidzon said. “No, no, no. If they don’t believe you, they kill you. But if you convince and they believe, they vote in bloc.”
EARLY January, cold and dark and damp, and the doors of the Baku Palace swung open to Brighton and Sheepshead Bay royalty. Men in tuxedos and women in shimmering, form-fitted dresses swept into a purple-lighted ballroom, where Gregory Davidzon celebrated the seventh anniversary of his station.
Platters of the fillets known as langet, chicken à la Baku and blintzes with black caviar were piled high on the tables. A disco ball twirled, and onstage, between silver Christmas trees, a singer with a mohawk spike of blond hair, dressed in tight white leather pants and wearing a black glove, twirled and moonwalked, singing a Kiev-meets-Michael Jackson version of “Thriller.”
Mr. Davidzon spun like a pinball from couple to couple, pressing hands, leaning in to tell a joke or listen to one, and thanking, thanking, thanking. Assembly and Council representatives showed up, as did Mr. Markowitz and Mr. Liu.
For months, federal prosecutors have been circling the comptroller, making arrests and examining with forensic care his fund-raising operation. Again Mr. Davidzon shrugs.
In this young Chinese-American politician he sees a mirror image of his own consuming hunger and drive. He endorsed Mr. Liu over three Jewish candidates in the 2009 Democratic primary for comptroller. In the runoff, Mr. Davidzon doubled down on his endorsement. The 46th Assembly District covers the thumping heart of Brighton Beach. Mr. Liu, of Queens, edged out David Yassky of Brooklyn, who is Jewish, in that district, and won decisively citywide.
Mr. Davidzon grinned and said, “Some election districts in Brighton, it was zero for Yassky.” He made a circle with thumb and forefinger and repeated: “Zero.”
Mr. Davidzon refuses to toss over Mr. Liu. “If Chinese people did something wrong, it’s because their community just started in politics,” he said. “It’s like a game they don’t understand fully.”
Mr. Davidzon owes his success to a precise understanding of his political landscape. He lives in an age of political dinosaurs, not the least the Brooklyn and Queens Democratic Party machines. County leaders have become distant figures. They are behind-the-curtain players, handpicking candidates, drawing district lines, appointing judges and ensuring that court assignments go to connected lawyers.
Their weakness is on display only on Election Day, when they can rally few of their troops. When Mr. Weiner was forced to resign, the Queens Democratic bosses selected a longtime and obedient soldier to take his place: Assemblyman Weprin.
County, state and national Democratic leaders sluiced hundreds of thousands of dollars into Mr. Weprin’s campaign coffers. Much of that money, more thany $170,000, went to consulting firms closely aligned with the Queens Democratic machine. Evan Stavisky, partner in a political consulting firm called the Parkside Group, ran the campaign. A few weeks before the election, Mr. Stavisky boasted of the “the most robust field program that’s ever been conducted in Queens County.”
Mr. Turner, the Republican, raised far fewer dollars. But he ran everywhere, sewed up Orthodox communities and gave about $40,000 to Mr. Davidzon, who treats his endorsements like blood guarantees. “I believe I could have made more from Weprin,” Mr. Davidzon said. “But Bob had energy; he was for less taxes, less bureaucracy.”
Mr. Turner swept the Russian sections of south Brooklyn by at least 2-1.
The victory seemed to herald a new age of Russian political power. But instead it may seal the community’s redistricting fate. The Russian political players of south Brooklyn take pride in their unpredictability, as they toggle between parties from election to election.
The career politicians who draw political lines view electoral unpredictability as kryptonite. Why create a Russian district in the State Senate when Russian voters could as easily swing Democratic as Republican?
Gary Tilzer, a journalist and political consultant, has worked with Russian-American candidates for more than a decade. He watches as the community’s leaders struggle for minor concessions like Russian-language ballots.
“This is a tragedy,” he said. “They work very hard and produce lots of votes, but the parties treat them like serfs.”
The Russians now move in several directions at once. Mr. Davidzon and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, a Democrat and a Russian-speaking immigrant who owes his own election to Mr. Davidzon, are putting shoulders to the wheel for Mr. Fidler in the coming Senate election. Others — doctors, lawyers, professors — talk of creating Russian Jewish political action committees and deploying money carefully.
“As our people move away from the central ghettos, our bloc voting power diminishes, but our economic power grows,” said Daniel Igor Branovan, a physician and an influential force in this new segment of the community.
Once Mr. Davidzon himself dreamed of running for the State Senate in a majority-Russian district. His prospects are no longer so clear. He speaks English with a heavy accent. His business world remains bound up in the Russian community.
For all his political acuity, he has yet to register to vote. So what does his future hold?
He offered that shrug.
“I think about running, yes,” he said. “But where? For what? In my life, I change my environment many times. I was in Russian, scientific, media environment. Maybe time to try political environment.”
But has his time slipped by, as he works so hard? He often calls his friends and allies in the morning’s early hours and talks and talks. Mr. Brook-Krasny’s furnace burns hard, but when that phone rings, sometimes his friend exhausts even him.
“I say, ‘Gregory, it’s 3 a.m.; go to sleep,’ ” Mr. Brook-Krasny said. “He tells me: ‘But it’s my life. I can’t stop.’ ”
(JTA) — For his 2021 book “How the Word Is Passed,” winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, poet and journalist Clint Smith explored the landscape of American memory — specifically how the history of slavery is explained, commemorated, distorted and desecrated in sites across the United States.
While on tour promoting the book, he explained in an interview Tuesday, he’d often be asked if any country had gotten it right when it came to memorializing its own dark past. “I kept invoking the memorials in Germany, but I had never been to the memorials in Germany,” Smith said. “As a scholar, as a journalist, I felt like I had to do my due diligence and excavate the complexity and the nuance, and the emotional and human texture, that undergirds so many of these places and spaces.”
The result is December’s cover story in the Atlantic, “Monuments to the Unthinkable.” Smith traveled to Germany twice over the past two years, visiting Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, its Topography of Terror Museum, the museum in Wannsee where the Nazis plotted the Final Solution, and the concentration camp at Dachau, talking to historians and curators along the way. As a Black man wrestling with how America accounts for the crimes of its past, he went to learn from the experience of the Germans, who “are still trying to figure out how to tell the story of what their country did, and simultaneously trying to figure out who should tell it.”
In an interview, Smith talked about the inevitable differences between the Holocaust and the Atlantic slave trade, the similarities in how two countries — and communities — experience their histories, and how his article could serve as a bridge between African-Americans and Jews in a time of increasing tension between them.
Smith spoke to JTA from his parents’ home in his native New Orleans.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Your book is about the ways America succeeds and fails to come to terms with slavery, and your article is about the ways Germany is, in your phrase, “constructing public memory.” I was struck by someone who warned you, “Don’t go to Auschwitz.” What were they saying?
Clint Smith: It was Frederick Brenner, a Jewish man and a remarkable photographer who has photographed the Jewish Diaspora across the world for the past several decades, who said that, because people are standing [at Dachau] and they’re taking selfies, and it’s like “me in front of the crematorium” and “me in front of the barracks.” That was deeply unsettling to him, especially as someone whose family was largely killed in the Holocaust.
I don’t want to be reductive about it and say that you don’t want people to go to these spaces and take pictures. I think it’s all about the sort of disposition and sensibilities one brings to a space. If someone went to the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, I don’t necessarily want them doing puckered-lip selfies in front of a slave cabin. I can understand why people wouldn’t want those places engaged with in that way, but you do want tourists to come, right? I mean, before the pandemic, 900,000 people visited Dachau every year, and part of what brings people to Dachau is seeing and taking a picture of the crematorium, taking a picture of themselves on this land in that space where history happened, and posting it online. And maybe that serves as a catalyst for somebody else to make that journey for themselves.
You did go to Dachau, which you call a “memorial to the evil that once transpired there.”
I am a huge believer in putting your body in the place where history happened. I stood in many places that carry the history of violence: plantations, execution chambers, death row. But I’ve never experienced the feeling in my body that I felt when I stood in the gas chamber at Dachau. And you just see the way that this space was constructed, with the sort of intentional, mechanized slaughter that it was meant to enact on people. The industrialized nature of it was something unlike anything I’d ever experienced before and it made me feel so much more proximate to that history in ways that I don’t think I would have ever experienced otherwise.
Physically standing in a concentration camp and physically standing and putting my body in the gas chamber fundamentally changed my understanding of the emotional texture and the human and psychological implications of it. Because when you’re in those spaces you’re able to more fully imagine what it might have been like to be in that space. And then you can imagine these people, these families, these women, these children who were marched into camps throughout Europe. You can never fully imagine the fear, that sense of desperation that one would have felt, but in some ways, it’s the closest we can get to it if you are someone who did not have family who lived through or survived the Holocaust. It provided me with a radical sense of empathy. And that’s why I took the trip in the first place.
By contrast, there are the memorials that are not historical sites, but either sculptural or architectural, like Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, nearly five acres of concrete slabs. What do you think makes an effective memorial that isn’t necessarily the historical place itself, but a specifically memorial project?
Well, for example, the big one in Berlin. It’s just so enormous. The scale and scope of it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I tried to imagine what an American analog would be like. What if in the middle of downtown Manhattan there was a 200,000-square-foot memorial, with thousands of stone columns, dedicated to commemorating the lives of indigenous people who were killed in the early Americas? Or a 200,000-square-foot memorial in the middle of downtown D.C., not far from the White House, to the lives of enslaved people?
With that said, what I found really valuable were the people I spoke to, who had very different relationships to that space. Some thought of that memorial as something that was so meaningful because of its size and because of its scope, and because it was a massive state-sanctioned project. And then there were others who thought that it was too abstract, that it was too passive, even in its name, right, the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe,” which sounds as if something happened to people without naming the people who enacted the harm and who committed the crime. Those are the sort of nuances and complexities that I wanted to spend more time with, and found really valuable because, in the same way, descendants of enslaved people here in the United States have many different conceptions of what the iconography of slavery should look like or what repair and reparations to slavery should be made.
You write about the “stumbling stones” or “Stolpersteine”: Those are the small brass plaques placed in the streets, inscribed with the names of Holocaust victims and placed in front of their last known residence. The stones are exactly the opposite scale of the Berlin memorial.
Right. I think that is the memorial that I was most struck by: the largest decentralized memorial in the world, with 90,000 stones across 30 different European countries. I remember the moment I was walking down the street looking for landmarks and saw my first Stolpersteine, and I only saw it because at that moment the clouds moved and the sun shone off the brass stone. You see the name, the birth date, the deportation date, the death date, the place where the person was killed. You walk past another home, you see seven; you walk past another home, you see 12. You begin to imagine entire lives based on the names and information that exist on these stones. It creates this profound sense of intimacy, this profound sense of closeness to the history and it’s so human, because it’s individual people and individual names.
One of the most valuable things about the stumbling stone project, I think, is all the work that precedes it. It’s the school students who are doing research to find out about the lives of the people who were taken from the home across the street from their school. It’s the people in the apartment complex, who come together and decide that they’re going to figure out who were the Jewish families who lived in that apartment complex before them. And sometimes it’s really remarkable, granular details about people’s lives: what their favorite food was, what their favorite flavor of ice cream was, what the child liked.
As Gunter Demnig, the originator of the project, says, 6 million people is a huge abstraction, and now it becomes about one man, one woman, one child, and [people] realize that it truly was not that long ago. There are so many survivors of the Holocaust who are still with us. Gunter Demnig, his father fought for the German army. He represents this generation of people who are engaging in a sort of contrition for the acts of their parents and their grandparents.
You ask in the piece what it would look like for a similar project to be created in the United States as a memorial to enslaved people.
I’m from New Orleans, and the descendant of enslaved people in New Orleans, which was at one point the busiest slave market in the country. And as Barbara Steiner, a Jewish historian, said to me in Germany, entire streets [of New Orleans] would be covered in brass stones! That was such a striking moment for me. That helped me more fully realize the profound lack of markers and iconography and documentation that we have to enslaved people in our landscape here in the United States relative to that of Germany.
Why are physical monuments important? I have sometimes wondered why we spend so much money on the infrastructure of memory — statues, museums, memorials — and if that money could be better used for living memorials, like scholarships for the descendants of victims, say, or programs that study or archive evidence of genocide. Why is it important to see a statue or a museum or even a plaque?
First off, museums and statues and memorials and monuments are by no means a panacea. It is not the case that you put up some memorials or you lay down some Stolpersteine and suddenly antisemitism is gone. Obviously, Germany is a case study and is experiencing its own rise in antisemitism. And that’s something that’s deeply unsettling, and is not going to singularly be solved by memorials and monuments.
With that said, I think there is something to be said to regularly encounter physical markers and manifestations of the violence that has been enacted and crimes that have been done in your name, or to the people that you are the descendant of. I try to imagine Germany without any of these memorials and I think it would just be so much easier for antisemitism to become far more pervasive. Because when your landscape is ornamented by things that are outlining the history that happened there, it is much more difficult to deny its significance, it is much more difficult to deny that it happened, it is much more difficult not to have it shape the way you think about public policy. I do believe that if we had these sorts of markers in the United States, it wouldn’t solve the racial wealth gap, it wouldn’t solve racism, it wouldn’t solve discrimination. It wouldn’t eradicate white nationalism or white supremacy. But I do think it would play some role in recalibrating and reshaping our collective public consciousness, our collective sense of history in ways that would not be insignificant.
And to your point, my hope is that those things are never mutually exclusive. It’s a conversation that’s happening here in the United States with regard to how different institutions are accounting for their relationship to slavery. Universities are coming up with reports, presentations, panels and conferences that outline their relationship to the history of slavery, especially since the murder of George Floyd [in 2020]. Activists and descendants have pushed them to not just put out a report, or put up a plaque or make a monument. It’s also about, well, what are you going to do for the descendants of those people? Harvard, where I went to grad school, put $100 million aside specifically for those sorts of interventions. Places like Georgetown have made it so that people who were the descendants of those who are enslaved have specific opportunities to come to the school without paying. And people of good faith can disagree over whether those initiatives are commensurate with or enough to atone for that past, and I think the answer is almost inevitably no.
Certainly people on what we like to think of as the wrong side of history understood the importance of physical monuments in creating memory.
The origin story of my own book was that I watched the monuments come down in 2017, in my hometown in New Orleans, of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee. I was thinking about what it meant that I grew up in a majority Black city, and there were more homages to enslavers than there were to enslaved people. What does it mean that to get to school I had to go down Robert E. Lee Boulevard? That to get to the grocery store, I had to go down Jefferson Davis Parkway? That my middle school was named after a leader of the Confederacy? And that my parents still live on a street today named after someone who owned 115 enslaved people? The names and iconography are reflective of the stories that people tell and those stories shaped the narratives that communities carry. And those narratives shape public policy and public policy is what shapes the material conditions of people’s lives.
One thing about Germany is that its national project of memory and repentance has been accompanied by a vast reparations program — for Israel, Jewish survivors, their families and programs to propagate Jewish culture. I wonder if you think Germany could have moved ahead without reparations? And can America ever fully grapple with the legacy of slavery without its own reparations?
The short answer is no. America cannot fully move forward from its past without reparations. The important thing is not to be limited and reductive in the way that we conceive of what reparations are or should look like. In some ways, I’m as interested if not more interested in what specific cities and states are doing in order to account for those histories and those crimes. For example, in Evanston, Illinois, they created a specific program to give reparations to Black families who experienced housing segregation, in a certain period of time, given how prevalent redlining was in and around Chicago in the mid-20th century. I know in Asheville, North Carolina, there’s a similar program that’s thinking about how to meaningfully engage in repair to the descendants of communities that were harmed from some of the policies that existed there. This is not to say that those programs themselves are perfect. But I think we sometimes talk about it so much on a federal level, that we forget the local opportunities that exist.
Many people who were redlined or experienced housing covenants — all the sort of insidious manifestations of wealth extraction that were part of Jim Crow — are still alive today. So sometimes it’s not even a question of what you have to give the descendants. Sometimes it’s like, what do you give the actual people who are still here?
That’s an important distinction you make in your article, about the difference between grappling with the past in Germany and the United States. In Germany, there are so few Jews, while in the U.S. we see the living evidence of slavery, not the evidence of absence.
That’s perhaps the greatest difference that allows for both a landscape of memory to be created in Germany, and also allows for Germany to pay reparations in ways that the United States is reluctant to do: Jewish people in Germany represent less than one quarter of one percent of the population of Germany. One of the folks I spoke to told me that Jewish people in Germany are a historical abstraction. Because there’s so few Jewish people left, because of the slaughter of the Holocaust. I think about the reparations that were given to Japanese Americans who were held in incarceration camps during World War II. They got $20,000 checks, which is not commensurate with what it means to be held in a prison camp for multiple years, and cannot totally atone for that. But part of the reason that can be enacted is that there’s a limited amount of people. There are 40 million black people in this country. So the economic implications of reparations are something fundamentally different here in the United States.
So let me ask you if there’s anything else you wanted to mention that we haven’t talked about.
I want to name specifically for your readers that I’m not and would never intend to conflate slavery and the Holocaust. They are qualitatively different historical phenomena that have their own specific complexities and should be understood on their own terms. With that said, I do think it can be helpful to put the two in conversation with one another, specifically in the profound ways that these two monumental periods of world history have shaped the modern world and how they are remembered in fundamentally different ways.
And there are similarities as well, which you write about.
I did find so many parallels. The Jewish people I spent time with in Germany explained that some of the manifestations of racism and anti-Blackness in the United States are not so different from the sort of manifestations of antisemitism that exist in Germany, especially as it relates to public memory. When I was at the museum devoted to the Wannsee conference, the executive director, Deborah Hartmann, told me that she and Deidre Berger [the chair of the executive board of the Jewish Digital Cultural Recovery Project Foundation] were talking about how Jewish people did not always have a seat at the table when these monuments and memorials were being built. Jewish people were not allowed to participate beyond a certain extent, because many Germans felt that Jewish people were not objective. Jewish historians couldn’t be taken seriously because they were too close to the history.
That just echoes so much of what Black scholars and historians have been told about their ability, or the lack thereof, to study the history of Black life. The godfather of African-American scholarship, W.E.B. Du Bois, was told by white scholars that he couldn’t be taken seriously because he was too close to the history of slavery.
Meanwhile, Deborah Hartmann talked about how so many of the historians and scholars who played a role in shaping the landscape of memory in Germany were themselves “close to the history,” including former members of the Hitler Youth.
Somebody sent me a message that really meant a lot to me this past week, basically saying that my essay is an exercise in “solidarity via remembrance” — in a moment where, unfortunately, there have been a lot of public manifestations of ideas and antisemitic remarks that might threaten to rupture a relationship between Black and Jewish people. Obviously, we didn’t time it this way: I worked on this piece for a year. But it’s my hope that as someone who is a Black American, who is the descendant of enslaved people, who is not himself Jewish — that my respectful, empathic, curious, journey reflects the long history of solidarity that has existed across Black and Jewish communities and that that I hope we never lose sight of.
This article originally appeared on JTA.org.
The post A Black writer explores how Germany remembers its ‘unthinkable’ past appeared first on The Forward.
(JTA) — Today, we will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We will represent the United States and honor the lives of 6 million Jews and millions of others murdered. While at Auschwitz, we will also express gratitude to the survivors and speak of the lessons learned in that era of terror.
As we reflect on history, we know that the bigotry that fueled the Holocaust did not end when the camps were liberated. Antisemitism may be considered one of the oldest forms of hatred, but its insidious impact and its deep dangers are not relegated to the past.
Antisemitism is increasing at home and abroad. Hatred of Jewish people simply for being Jews is real and rising. We can only stop this scourge if governments and community leaders declare it unacceptable and inconsistent with our values.
With that in mind, we will convene community leaders in Poland to discuss efforts underway to combat antisemitism. Then, we will travel to Berlin, where we will meet with foreign government officials, who are also dedicated to turning the tide of hate. Our goal is to deepen our relationships with European partners — in and out of government — to combat the rise in antisemitism.
We can learn from each other and share our best practices. We can lead through our shared values of equality, diversity, and human rights. This moment calls on us to take action, together, based on these values.
It’s too often that we hear stories about attacks on Jewish communities. We see vandalism, threats, and violent, hateful rhetoric. People used to be afraid to say the ugly epithets and lies out loud. Now they are literally screaming them.
In 2018, a horrific antisemitic assault stole the lives of 11 innocent people at the Tree of Life synagogue. In 2019, a gunman opened fire at California’s Chabad of Poway, killing one and wounding three more people in an attack motivated by antisemitism. And just last year, in Los Angeles, we saw antisemitic banners hung over a freeway.
Heinous and senseless acts of violence bring pain to the Jewish community. We’ve heard from parents who are worried about sending their children to preschool at their Jewish community center because they fear for their safety. They must explain to their children why the synagogue they attend has an armed guard at the entrance while the church across the street has none.
In December, we both attended a roundtable at the White House convening Jewish leaders in the United States. We spoke about the impact antisemitism is having on their communities including issues of safety, education, and accountability. Under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, we have increased funding for physical security of nonprofits and synagogues, and appointed leaders to focus on hate crimes and track and fight antisemitism.
Through a whole-of-government approach, the Biden-Harris Administration is crafting a broad-based national plan to address antisemitism. The first mandate of the interagency is to create a U.S. National Action Plan on Antisemitism.
But we know there is more work to be done. We each need to do our part to educate those around us and instill knowledge in the next generation of leaders to help fight antisemitism. We cannot and will not allow this to be normalized and politicized. We all have a responsibility to speak out and make clear that antisemitism is wrong, just like every other prejudice. We must all condemn antisemites as dangerous and also call out those who don’t. In the face of evil, there is no neutrality. Standing silent is not an option. Indeed, silence is what allows vile oppressors to thrive and this malicious virus of hate to grow.
It is time — yet again — for us to replace the silence, of the past and present, with a chorus of voices making antisemitism a relic and this horrific hatred a thing of the past.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
The post We’re visiting Auschwitz because the fight against antisemitism didn’t end with liberation appeared first on The Forward.